It has been a little while, Hockey Independent. I’ve been keepingbusy as of late, and I guess I’ve been a little too busy for my own good. I’ve missed talking with all of you, so I’m back, and I want to hear what you all have to say.
You know that I don’t normally talk about our cross-town rivals. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about what the New York Rangers do, but it’s hard not to pay attention to what’s going on over the bridge. The Rangers were eliminated in five games by the Boston Bruins, which was followed by the firing of the bombastic John Tortorella. Things are a mess over by Madison Square Garden, and it’s very possible that things are about to get messier (which would be a great head-line if this were a piece on Mark Messier becoming the new coach).
Brad Richards, who signed a nine-year deal with the Rangers during the summer of 2011, may see his contract bought out by New York in the near future. The 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner was benched by John Tortorella for Game’s 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and became the easy scapegoat for a Rangers’ team that has had offensive woes during the past two seasons.
Well, Isles fans. My ears perked up when this became discussion. If Brad Richards becomes a free agent, I think I may just be interested.
Before I’m barraged with “we don’t need another reclamation project” banter, stop it. Just stop right there. Brad Boyes, a former 40-goal scorer who scored 8 goals during the 2011-12 season, was a reclamation project. Scott Gomez, who scored 84 points in 2006, but hasn’t surpassed 38 points since 2010, was/is a reclamation project. Brad Richards, he who has scored 102 points in 128 games with the New York Rangers, is not a reclamation project.
He was an easy scapegoat for the New York Rangers. He signed a monster contract with the Rangers after teams lined up to sign him (literally), and he never lived up to it. I said it before any team signed him, though. Richards, who was the top free agent during a very weak free agency class, was going to get overpaid, and he was never going to have a shot at living up to it.
When you see players like John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes put up higher numbers than a $60M man only a few miles away, somebody is going to get criticized. That’s not a shot at any of our Islanders, but an ode to the affordable deals Garth Snow signed them to, each cheaper (in pay and years) than Richards’ mega-deal.
With that being said, I’m not denying Richards’ talent either. No, he’s not a $60M man, but the guy can play. He has peaked with 91 points twice (2005-06 and 2009-10) in his career. He has a career-high of 28 goals (JT matched that in half a season), but his career-high in assists (67) matches PA Parenteau’s career-high in points. As much as we would like to call him a bust (in terms of his contract, I guess he is), Richards’ would have finished 4th in offensive production on the Islanders in each of the last two seasons.
I get it. You still don’t want him, and if you do, you don’t see where he fits in on this roster. Why not make him the team’s second-line centre?
Personally, I think it’s bogus when people say he’s a third-line centre now. Absolutely not. Just because he didn’t meet his contract doesn’t mean he cannot fill a centre spot on one of the Islanders’ top-two scoring lines. I love Frans Nielsen, but if you think Frans is more suited for that role than Richards is, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Richards lost a step? Maybe, but he’s still capable of scoring more, and finding his linemates more often, than Frans Nielsen, or any of the other Islanders’ centres not named John Tavares.
And I know the Isles are “deep” down the middle. After Tavares, the Islanders have Frans Nielsen and Casey Cizikas on the roster. That’s obviously not enough for an NHL roster, but the Islanders are”supposed” to call upon Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome next season. Well, what if they choose not to?
Who fills that spot? If the Isles go into next season with only Tavares, Nielsen, and Cizikas signed to the big club, the Islanders’ will find themselves in the same situation they were in for the past several years: without a #2 centre. Brad Richards fixes that.
From there, the move opens up an abundance of opportunities. Let Brad Boyes walk, and replace him with Ryan Strome on JT’s wing. Bring up Nino Niederreiter, and let him “return” to the NHL on the wing of a true centre in Richards. Brock Nelson? If there’s not a spot for him, it wouldn’t hurt to develop the kid a little bit longer.
Of course, this is all and idea if, in fact, the Rangers choose to buy out Richards’ contract. The firing of John Tortorella would suggest that the Rangers are placing the blame on the coach, and not the players. Still, the possibility of a buy-out is lingering.
If Richards truly is cut, sign him, Garth. Shove it in the Rangers’ faces. Give him a one or two year deal on the cheaper side ($3 million per?), so he can, as Richards said, “prove” himself. I’d jump on that chance in a heartbeat.
Thanks for reading. Do you like the idea of Brad Richards in an Islanders’ jersey?
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants